Corning influenced accounting legacy at Adams State


Article by Linda Relyea

gerald corning in spring 2009 at commencement standing behind podium on stage

Gerald Corning served as Adams State Commencement Faculty Marshall from spring 2007 through fall 2009. Pictured, Corning presides over the spring 2009 commencement ceremony.

Achieving success in their professions, Karla Willschau '84 and James "Jamie" Harvey '83 established the Gerald Corning Endowment in honor of their Adams State University mentor and emeritus professor of business.

Corning retired from the Adams State School of Business in 2010 after teaching accounting courses for 35 years. "I am a little overwhelmed by the honor," he said. "I tried to provide my students with the skills they needed to succeed and to push themselves as much as they could."

Harvey remembers Corning being available after class, his willingness to provide extra help and offer great advice when preparing for the CPA exam. "He was confident in your abilities even if you had doubts."

Willschau appreciated her Adams State professors taking the time to "get to know" their students. "Mr. Corning was always interested in what I was doing, whether it was school or work related. He was committed to preparing students to take the CPA exam and because of that Adams State experienced a high pass rate. He kept up with how his students did on the exam."

Corning had empathy for what his students. "I went through it myself. A little help makes a lot of difference."

In his 15th year as the Chief Financial Officer for the USA Swimming in Colorado Springs, Harvey said Corning was instrumental in helping him earn his CPA license in 1985. In addition to the Olympic Team, they serve over 400,000 members and have an annual budget of $37 million. "I have been very blessed in my career and am grateful to Mr. Corning and Adams State for the excellent education I received."

As a professor, Corning dedicated his time and talents. "I am certainly glad they appreciated the education they received. It tells me my hard-work paid off."

Managing Partner for the Certified Public Accounting Firm Wall, Smith, Bateman Inc., Willschau has the privilege to work with great people in the firm and the "absolute best clients." Her father passed away when she was young, and her mother raised three daughters on a single income. "Needless to say, my mother did not have the money to send us to college," Willschau said. "My family lived in Del Norte, and I figured out early during college that if I lived at home, it would be more affordable."

To make help make ends meet, Willschau carpooled with friends to Alamosa when attending Adams State. "My education at Adams State made a huge impact on my professional life. Working in the San Luis Valley, I see Adams State graduates working in various businesses every day, and the level of sophistication is high because of Adams State."

According to Harvey, a post-secondary degree is essential in all areas of business. To sit for the CPA exam, a student must have completed 150 hours. "A liberal arts education prepares a person to thrive and contribute in a complex and diverse world," Harvey added. "My degree was a critical prerequisite for entry into the accounting profession."

Both encourage current and future accounting students to study hard and keep to a higher standard. "Believe in your higher purpose, and never give up," Harvey said. "Always do the right thing, even if it may seem to your detriment."

Willschau added: "Keep in mind while you are studying, that what you are learning, and how you apply it during your profession, will have an effect on people and their lives."

The Gerald Corning Endowment will be awarded to a student who is eligible to sit for the CPA exam. The deadline to apply for Adams State Foundation scholarships, for the 2017/2018 academic year, is March 1, 2017. For more information, or a complete guide to all scholarships, visit ASU Scholarships.